In this paper, we present an interview study of 13 recent newcomers to New York City, focusing on their early experiences of exploration and use of mobile location services and other tools for getting to know their new city. We describe their reasons and intentions behind exploratory practices using digital tools and emphasize how they make meaning out of new places in relation to technology tools as well as their previous places. Mobile location technologies make the process of finding specific places and exploring new neighborhoods a digital search task but discourage the notion of wandering and exploration. We point out missed opportunities for socio-technical systems supporting place making and place discovery and suggest that digital exploration tools should stay peripheral to the activities that people enjoy as tech-free but support a wider notion of search for salient characteristics of places.
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